Mario Enrique Contreras of Chula Vista would not change anything he did the day he helped take down a crazed gunman who opened fire at an elementary school in Carlsbad in October.
“The best thing is that nobody died,” Contreras said Thursday at a local heroes recognition luncheon in San Diego. “There’s no trophy that could mean more to me than that. No one died.”
County law enforcement officials honored Contreras, Carlos Partida, also from Chula Vista, and Steven Kane of Jamul for their heroics at Kelly Elementary. Three others, were honored for separate incidents at the 20th annual Law Enforcement Salute to Local Heroes event sponsored by the Rotary Club of San Diego.
Contreras, Partida and Kane were working on a cafeteria project when the gunman opened fire wounding two students.
Contreras and Kane chased after the gunman as he was trying to reload. Partida knocked him down with his truck and the men held him until police arrived.
“There were too many lives at stake. I didn’t think of my own,” Partida said.
Contreras broke his hand punching the man. “He wouldn’t let go of his weapon,” he said. “I didn’t think. It was all instinct.”
“It was pretty nice the way it ended,” Kane said.
The suspected gunman was later identified as Brendan O’Rourke, 41, who has been charged with attempted murder.
The three men have received other honors since the incident, including $1,000- scholarships to each man by a private vocational school in San Marcos.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis who nominated the three for the award, said the three men exemplified courage at its best.
“They’re so remarkable. They went to work. It was just a regular day and they rose to the occasion. They saw children in trouble and they went to rescue them," she said.